My wife and I have never been early risers. I need my beauty sleep and Catherine just needs her sleep, so the prospect of getting up at 5:00 am to head up the A1 from West Yorkshire to Newcastle after a difficult night with the children was not high on my wish list, but initially at least would have to do. It’s a 2 hour monotonous drive through uninspiring countryside and even early in the morning is surprisingly busy.
Of course I needed to find somewhere to stay in Newcastle but was surprised to find how much rental prices had gone up since I was last renting a room in Newcastle. I used to have a nice room in Heaton for £125 pcm back in 1999 but now I found that prices had at least doubled, in line I suppose with the housing market. For three nights a week it barely seemed worth it so in the first instance I just ‘crashed’ where ever I could. Now when it comes to accommodation I have always been a resourceful chap and have never been particularly fussy. As a student I covertly lived in an ancient camper van on Richardson Road for a full year with no problem at all (at a time when there was still free parking to be had).
A tentative enquiry revealed that Eddie still had his little wooden boat moored in Newcastle and I was welcome to stay on it. Eddie once told me that he liked to keep a couple of inches of water in the bilge to “keep the timbers tight”. It soon turned out that the ‘couple of inches ‘ was more like 6 inches and Eddie really didn’t have much of a say in it as it was mainly due to how much it had rained recently. Time had not been kind to Eddie’s boat (or to Eddie come to think of it). Eddie’s 19’ boat was a good habitat for fungus, influenza and legionnaire’s disease but not a good habitat for a research associate, however, for the moment it was all I had. In terms of facilities there was a bucket, a paraffin cooker that had rusted through and a torch. The Malmaison it was not but I was prepared to give it a go.